Franklin Foer

Notes on Mexico v South Africa
June 11, 2010

South Africa, I think, has actual reason for elation about the result. The Carlos Alberto Parriera system worked. His defense is barely good enough (and counterattacking capabilities sufficient) to keep them in any match in their opening group. South Africa will be more than content to retain their viability and hope that some gust of luck and homerism carries them through. Mexico, on the other hand, somewhat disappointed me. As a Barca fan, I’m pleased that Rafa Marquez scored his gimme goal. But you can see why Barca doesn’t use him regularly anymore.

Aphorism of the Day
June 09, 2010

"Life is too short to miss any games to be played this summer in South Africa. A sad fact of human existence is that an average life seldom contains more than 20 World Cups—our games are tragically numbered." From Aleksandar Hemon's preview of the tournament in the current issue of TNR.

The Exciting Fábio Coentrão?
June 09, 2010

YouTube is, in many ways, a tragically demystifying invention. One of the joys of watching a World Cup was encountering a great player from an obscure league for the first time. But now highlight reels abound. Still, there are players that I can’t wait to see in action--if only to gauge if they can live up to the moments edited together by some adoring fan. One such player is the Portugese full back, and dribbler extraordinaire, Fábio Coentrão. His skills remind me of Denilson, who could make dazzling runs, filled with step-overs and other circus moves.

Chile--And Its Crazy Coach--Will Win Your Heart
June 08, 2010

I am a big fan of the site Zonal Marking. The good folks over there have an excellent study of Chile. Now, I plan on rooting for Chile on feel-good humanitarian grounds. But I also intend to root for them because of their coach, Marcelo Bielsa. We’ve spent a fair amount of time already discussing the eccentricities of Diego Maradona. You might ask, how on earth did the Argentine football federation select such an obviously unstable man? Well, Maradona probably looked sane in comparison to Bielsa, one of his predecessors as the national coach.

Headline Competition
June 08, 2010

World Cup College predicts the headlines to emerge from the tournament: Hand of Drog Roo Beauty Chile Gone Barmy Let’s Go Foul a Kuyt New Zealand suffer half-Nelsen [Ryan Nelsen is sent off just before half-time]

The Apostasy of Dunga
June 08, 2010

Alex has launched a wonderfully entertaining all-out assault on Brazil. I had planned on issuing a rebuttal and intend to return to the subject soon. In the meantime, I want to recommend this insightful (if somewhat meandering) post from the blogger santapelota. No country's game has been as sentimentalized as Brazil's--and santapelota does a nice job of parsing the reality of joga bonito from its hype.   To be fair, the fatuous Nikeisation of Brazil's footballing image in recent years has done much to support his argument against ball-juggling, irresponsible street entertainers.

Soccer and Human Trafficking
June 08, 2010

There’s a lot of happy talk about how this World Cup will aid the cause of Africa soccer. I hope that’s the case. In the meantime, I highly recommend Spiegel’s excellent piece on how the European soccer economy has sunk its tentacles into the continent. A sample of the piece's ugly findings: More than 10 years ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a report warning that "a modern 'slave trade' is being created with young African players." In Belgium, the politician Jean-Marie Dedecker investigated 442 cases of alleged human trafficking with Nigerian players.

Welcome Back
June 05, 2010

I suppose I should justify the existence of this blog on our site. If I were to make an insincere effort to do so, I would argue this: Writing about culture is a very sizable portion of our ambit and this is the single greatest cultural spectacle of them all—a window, therefore, into nationalism, global capitalism, our notions of leisure, and other very worthy topics.

Welcome to the TNR Society
April 07, 2010

Does content want to be free? That question about the basic economic model of Internet publishing has tormented journalism for years now. And if you read the media about media, we’re due for another turn in this great debate. The New York Times will soon start charging for online access. Conde Nast hopes the seductive powers of the iPad will revivify the circulation of its glossies, gifting them a new platform for charging readers. Recently we’ve been mulling this same basic strategic tact, and, in fact, it has a long history at TNR.

Big News: Introducing The Book, an Online Review
January 10, 2010

Today is a momentous day in the history of The New Republic, and in the American literary world. We are proud to announce the appearance of The Book: An Online Review. The literary pages of The New Republic have long been known as a home to high criticism and impassioned debate.